Georgetown pediatric medical workers said they are worried about outbreaks of eradicated, vaccine-preventable diseases in children as they have seen fewer patients since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

CEO of Chisholm Trail Pediatrics Shane Littleton is not a doctor, but he runs the practice and said they are seeing about 60% their normal volume of patients as businesses and schools shut down and residents were asked to stay indoors except for essential trips.

This, he said, concerns him and the physicians, and they are worried about what it means for eradicated diseases.

Littleton said the practice, which has a location in Georgetown and Round Rock, continues to see a trend in missed appointments and subsequently missed vaccines due to coronavirus fears. But medical professionals are trying to combat that fear, informing patients that children are more likely to get ill from eradicated illnesses than the coronavirus.

Dr. Adrian Gaty at Chisholm Trail Pediatrics wrote in a letter to parents that it is more important than ever to get children vaccinated.

“Your child is statistically far more likely to get severely ill—with pneumonia, meningitis, or worse—from vaccine preventable diseases than from the coronavirus,” Gaty wrote. “Now that we know more about the risks to children, we can confidently assert that missing appointments, and shots, will over the long term be far more dangerous to your child’s health than coming in to see us.”

Littleton added that vaccines strengthen a child's immunity, which is important for when they do return to normal activity. Even if children are less susceptible to contracting COVID-19, if they do get sick from a preventable disease, they could end up in the hospital, where they could contract additional diseases due to a weaker immune system.

While Texas does require certain vaccines for students to attend traditional school, some families may opt out due to medical reasons or religious beliefs. About 2.46% of Georgetown ISD students kindergarten through 12th grade held a conscientious exemption, which exempts them from required vaccines, in the 2019-20 school year, according to Texas Department of State Health Services data. That number is up from 2.36% the year prior.

Littleton said by not getting their kids vaccinated, parents are putting their children more at risk.

“[Vaccines do] not lower their immunity; it boosts their immunity,” Littleton said. “These kids' immune systems are going to be stronger overall to battle all viruses by getting their vaccines than by not getting their vaccines.”

While some vaccines are acceptable to receive even if delayed, Gaty strongly suggests families do not rely on this.

“Please don't delay getting your vaccines. ...The last thing you want when you have the coronavirus is to have an ear infection or something even worse at the same time,” Gaty said in an email. “The more up to date on vaccines you are, the less likely your body is to be suffering from another ailment, or busy using up energy fighting one off, when it gets exposed to the coronavirus.”